Death Valley north

JIM BENDER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 2:43 PM ET

CALGARY -- Mike Kelly has laid down the gauntlet.

Not only have his Winnipeg Blue Bombers arrived in town in a nasty mood thanks to being made 14.5-point underdogs in tonight's game against the Stampeders (8:30 p.m., TSN), the head coach has reminded them that it has been seven long years since the Bombers last beat these Cowpokes in their own corral.

Since then, the foothills of the Rockies has become Death Valley for the lads in Blue and Gold. So Kelly has challenged his charges to snap that six-game losing skid -- now.

Chip on shoulders

"I remember years ago when this club had some pretty good football teams that just got handled (here)," said Kelly, an assistant Bomber coach in the 1990s.

"I don't know what it is. Maybe the altitude's different. Maybe it's one minute, it snows, the next minute, you've got a chinook. I don't know.

"What I do know is that this group of young men has prepared themselves well and have a little bit of a chip on their shoulder and will go out there and give a great effort."

Defensive tackle Doug Brown is the last Bomber standing from that last victory here some seven years ago.

"There's this fleeting iota of remembrance when we came here and I actually had a good feeling after the game," Brown said. "It's a long, distant memory ... We've got friends here in Calgary and every time after the game, it's all glum faces and sunken hopes and despair after playing in Calgary.

"It's a culture of losing that has been formulated over our trips here. You don't have a readily-made scapegoat like Montreal and Crescent Street and all this kind of stuff ... You lose here, then you lose again and then it just snowballs."

But Kelly is the new sherriff in town and he is itchin' for a showdown.

"It's a new regime," Brown said. "We have a new track record and we're 0-and-0 at McMahon Stadium right now, so hopefully we can do well ... You've got to think that the cosmic laws of the CFL, we'd be due. Right?"

New Bomber quarterback Michael Bishop is anxious to change the club's fortunes here.

"I guess it's the right time to make a change and get that monkey off our backs," he said.

But tailback Fred Reid knows it won't be easy against the reigning Grey Cup champions, who are coming off a late loss at home to Saskatchewan last week.

"The last seven years, coach Kelly was saying, we haven't won there, so that's another thing we need to go in there and change right now," said Reid, who rushed for 81 yards on 13 carries when the Bombers beat Calgary 32-20 in Winnipeg earlier this season. "We can't keep going in there and letting them beat us.

"There's some wounded dogs in there right now and we've just got to go in there and beat them up in the first half of the football game."

Kelly predicted it will be like "walking into a wounded animal's cage."

"They've got open wounds right now," he said. "They got beat by Saskatchewan at home after having a lead. We beat them the last time we played them. This is an angry dog that we're going to go try to kick."

But the Stamps are not about to depend on their winning streak over Winnipeg.

"We know we've had success in the past with them and we also know we won a championship in the past, too, but that doesn't help us this year," said Calgary quarterback Henry Burris.

"So we've got to go out there and make sure we get that mental edge back ... and make the plays we know we can."

jim.bender@sunmedia.ca


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